I know what many of you are thinking: That headline assumes facts not in evidence, namely that I’m sane.

Nevertheless, it’s true. And for that — for enabling me to emerge more or less mentally unscathed after two months of modified house arrest, or MHA — I have primarily the Gwinnett County Department of Parks and Recreation to thank.

(I refuse to say “quarantine.” Quarantines, by definition, are for sick people. Confining well people to their homes is house arrest, “modified” in that we were allowed out to eat and breathe.)

Sure, other factors also helped, such as having the loveliest cellmate in America. My work. My collection of Dick Francis novels. The Chick-Fil-A drive-thru. Disney Plus.

But what has mostly kept me from losing my mind over the last two months has been the fact that my lovely cellmate and I could at least go for regular walks in one of our beautiful Gwinnett County parks.

And so I wish to extend a heart-felt thank you to the commissioners and the folks at Gwinnett County’s Parks and Rec who did not cave in to pressure to close. You probably saved hundreds of lives, and I’m neither exaggerating nor being facetious.

Yes, certain areas were closed, such as playgrounds and basketball courts. That’s understandable, considering what we knew or thought we knew at the time. (Although, given what we know now, I think they could probably be reopened at this point without any serious consequences.)

But the walking, running, and biking paths remained open. And for that — for the thrice-weekly dose of fresh air and mind-preserving exercise that allowed — my lovely cellmate and I are eternally grateful.

Nor were we the only ones who took advantage of that life-sustaining activity. In fact, as the MHA dragged on, we noticed more and more people on the walking paths. By mid-April, they were getting pretty crowded. We’ve been going to one particular park for years, and we’ve never seen that many folks in the middle of a weekday afternoon.

If the twin dark clouds of the pan-panic and the resulting MHA had any silver linings, that was surely one: people exercising who had never really exercised before. No, I wasn’t thrilled to see my previously little-known trails become well-traveled, but I’m not too concerned. I’m sure most of them will stop exercising as soon as they can return to Jim-n-Nick’s in full force.

As an aside, I did hear that some busybody has been complaining to the county about the volunteers who maintain the trails, claiming they’re defiling nature or something.

Seriously, who thinks like that? Maybe that individual should try hiking through a briar patch.

But I digress. My point is that, if you too have enjoyed our beautiful parks these past few months, with their peaceful vistas and well-maintained trails, maybe you should write to the county and thank them.

I just did.

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Rob Jenkins is a college professor. The views expressed here are his own. You can email Rob at rob.jenkins@outlook.com.


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